NCAA Rules Waiver posted 1/27/2021: Due to challenges resulting from COVID-19, softball rule 188.8.131.52.2 has been changed for the 2021 season. This new waiver prohibits offensive team personnel from congregating anywhere outside the dugout to congratulate a runner(s) after an out-of-park homerun. A further clarification by Craig Hyde was given on his 2020-2021 Preseason Message posted on 2/5/2021, during which he stated 3 steps to follow for calling and administering this rule (184.108.40.206.2):
- During your coach pre-game meeting, remind the coaches of this waiver and ask them to help you manage this rule during the game.
- Use verbal and signaling if an umpire sees a team coming out of the dugout for this situation – “STAY BACK!! STAY BACK!!” while using your hand to motion them back to the dugout
- If a team becomes defiant and is coming out “no matter what” to congregate outside the dugout, umpires are instructed to warn the team and advise them to remain in the dugout. For further violations by that team, umpires are instructed to solicit assistance from the on-site administrator.
- If a team becomes defiant and is coming out “no matter what” and touches a runner, we use the Effect for that rule – issue a warning and for a subsequent offense the batter-runner is declared out and each other base runner must return to the last base legally touched at the time of the violation.
- NOTE: Craig stated in his message that for the second occurrence the head coach is ejected. That is not the correct. We received a clarification from NCAA:
- Umpires and coaches are encouraged to collaborate to ensure offensive team personnel do not congregate outside the dugout. Should teams violate this COVID-19 waiver, umpires are instructed to warn (see Rule 13.1.1) the offending team and advise them that they must remain in the dugout. For further violations by a team, umpires are instructed to solicit assistance from the on-site administrator and file an NCAA Softball Incident Report. Only violations of 220.127.116.11.1 will require a warning and out on subsequent violations per the EFFECT written in the rules book.
- We received an additional clarification during Craig Hyde’s 2021 Softball Training Tape 1 posted on February 25, 2021. If there are runners on base we should allow those runners ahead of the batter runner to “…be near the plate but maybe be moving toward the dugout. Let’s not force them to get in the dugout.”
Team interference can happen during either a live ball or dead ball. Interference during a live ball is discussed in two separate articles on this Locker Room (Interference by Retired Runner, and Offensive Team Personnel/Equipment Interference). This article will cover offensive team interference during a dead ball. award.
The rules for this are often referred to as the home-run celebration rules, but it could also happen on a rule-book two base award (commonly known by the misnomer “ground rule double”. Offensive team personnel shall not interfere with a runner(s) who is legally running the bases on a dead-ball award until the runner(s) contacts home plate nor with the umpire’s ability to see that all bases are properly touched.
• Offensive team personnel, other than base coaches and base runner(s), shall not touch a runner(s) until the runner(s) contacts home plate.
• Offensive team personnel shall congregate only in foul territory around home plate to congratulate the runner(s).
The effect for each of these violations is a warning for the first instance, and then penalties for subsequent violations.
• For the first bullet above, the player touched is immediately declared out and credited with the last base legally touched at the time of the interference.
• For the second bullet above, the batter-runner is declared out and credited with the last base legally touched at the time team personnel entered fair territory.
• In all cases, each other base runner must return to the last base legally touched at the time of the violation.
Clarification for NCAA RULE 18.104.22.168
Rule 22.214.171.124, which covers the legal positioning of team member during the congratulatory celebration during a dead ball (e.g. out-of-the-park homerun), is actually a very straight-forward rule with an easy-to-understand Effect. Do not let the length of the explanation in this document cause concern, as it is intended to be detailed and cover as many of the situations which might happen in regard to this rule. Most likely this rule will invoked in very few games. This document should help you to recognize the situation when does happen and to apply the correct ruling.
The most challenging part of this rule is the new subsection which limits the offensive team’s celebration to foul territory. I strongly recommend that conference coordinators, assigners, umpire associations, the NFCA and the SUP make a concerted effort to alert the head coaches of this new rule.
Umpires must also take a proactive stance during a game. If/when the first violation occurs, the umpire making the call on the violation must take the time to alert the offending coach of the violation and warning, just like every other rule with a warning as the effect. It is imperative that the umpire, quickly and concisely, tells the coach that the next violation of this rule will result in somebody being called out and may negate one or more runs.
Rule 126.96.36.199 covers the actions allowed by offensive team personnel on a dead-ball award. Most likely this rule will come into play after an out-of-the-park homerun. Rule 188.8.131.52 has two sub-sections
o 184.108.40.206.1 prohibits anyone other than a base coach or other runner from touching a runner before she touches home plate.
o 220.127.116.11.2 prohibits entering fair ground to congratulate the runner(s).
o Effect: for the first violation of either 18.104.22.168.1 or 22.214.171.124.2, a warning is issued to the offense. A subsequent violation of either 126.96.36.199.1 or 188.8.131.52.2 will result in an out being called.
Warning, Violations, and their Effects
If there is a violation of either 184.108.40.206.1 or 220.127.116.11.2, a warning is issued to the team.
o On any subsequent violations the team is penalized.
o It does not matter if the team was warned for one of these rules and the second violation is for the other rule.
For example, Team A is warned for touching a runner in the 2nd inning (18.104.22.168.1). In the 5th inning a player moves into fair territory to congratulate the home run hitter (22.214.171.124.2). The batter-runner will be called out for this second violation.
Who is declared out and when?
A warning must be issued for the first occurrence. An out is called only on a subsequent violation.
o The runner(s) who is touched in violation of 126.96.36.199.1is immediately called out at the time of the touch.
o The batter-runner is called out immediately when the first offensive team personnel goes into fair territory (188.8.131.52.2).
Effect on runs scored
No runs may score by the touched runner(s) in 184.108.40.206.1or the batter-runner in 220.127.116.11.2. If the declared out is not the third out of the inning
o All other runs score.
If the declared out is the third out, runs scored will depend on when the violation happens. In both cases:
o No run can be scored by that runner or subsequent runners
As in all other cases with two outs, no runs score if:
o The batter-runner does not reach first base safely OR
o The runner who is touched does not advance safely to a base to which she is forced
As in all other cases with two outs, it is a timing play if:
o The batter-runner has touched first base safely AND
o All other runners advance safely to a base to which she is forced
Multiple violations on the same play – No previous warning
Do not call any outs on this play as the team has not yet received a warning
o Wait for the play to complete (all runners scored) before a warning is issued
o Issue one warning to the team which covers all violations on that play
o Example: both R3 and R2 are touched before they touch the plate
o Do not issue a warning for R3 and then call R2 out
Multiple violations on the same play – Previous warning has been issued
All violations will be penalized.
o If multiple runners are touched– all touched runners are called out
o If the team goes into fair territory AND runner(s) are touched, all touched runners and the batter-runner are called out
o The outs will be called in the order of the violation.
o For example: if the team goes into fair territory before the runner is touched, the BR is called out and then the runner is called out.
o All the rules on runs scored apply, so watch the order in which the violations happen if a third out is involved.
For the purpose of this rule “offensive team personnel” are listed in 9.6.1:
o Players not at bat, not on deck or not on base
o Coaches not in the coaches’ boxes
o Medical personnel
o Bat handlers
Note 1: This is not a comprehensive list as the current runners, the on-deck batter and base coaches are also offensive team personnel for the purpose of other rules.
Note 2: Runners have been excluded from the list because they can touch another runner (18.104.22.168.1), and most of the time the runners will be in fair territory while running the bases. However, remember that a runner is no longer a runner once she touches home plate.
Note 3: The intent of rule 22.214.171.124.2 is that nobody is in fair territory around home plate so that the umpire can easily see all runners touch the plate. So a base coach may not run from their coach’s box into fair territory. Also, a runner who has just touched home plate must continue into foul ground to join the celebration.
Plays and rulings
A warning is issued to Team A in the second inning because a player who is not an active runner touches a base runner before she touches the plate. In the fifth inning Team A congregates in fair territory after an out-of-the-park home run. The umpire calls the batter-runner out because the second violation does not have to be the exact same violation as the first violation.
There are bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs. The home team is losing 3-0. The batter hits an out-of-the-park home run and her team immediately races out of its dugout and congregates in both foul and fair territory before the batter-runner has touched first base. The home team has already been warned during the game for this offense. The batter-runner is declared out by the plate umpire for the third out. Since she did not yet touch first base the game is over and the final score is 3-0.
A batter-runner is declared out while running the base after an out-of-the-park home-run because her team, although previously warned, congregate again in fair territory. After the BR touches first base this becomes a timing play. All runs will count for runners who have scored before the first offensive player enters fair territory.
There are bases loaded with two outs in a game in which the offensive team has been previously warned for team personnel being in fair ground to congratulate a teammate after an out-of-the-park homerun. The batter hits an out-of-the-park homerun. Before R3 can touch the plate she is touched by a player who races out from the 3rd base dugout R3 is called out and since she never safely advanced to a base to which she is forced, no runs score.